...and other misconceptions I made 06-8-23
2006 Aug 23
March 11th 2010
Getting the adoption recognized in Germany

Posted by D under adoption-process

I am not a lawyer. I strongly suggest that you talk to a lawyer in Germany to verify that this information is correct (and if you are interested, I’ll be more than happy to share the contact information of the lawyer whom we used – she was extremely helpful; just drop me a line or comment below).

Having said all this, here is what we learned.

If you (at least one of the parents) are German and adopted outside of Germany, and the country (or countries) in which you adopted were at that time not part of the Hague Convention, then German authorities are likely to not recognize this adoption until it has been approved by a German court. It appears that there is one single court in charge of dealing with all of these foreign adoptions, the Amtsgericht Schöneberg in Berlin.

What you need to do is to petition the court for the recognition (Anerkennung) of the adoption under German law. In our case the judge asked us for an impressive list of documentation:

  1. A certified copy (validated by an Apostille of the secretary of state of your home state) of the adoption decision, permanently connected with its German translation as provided by a sworn translator (the list of acceptable translators can be obtained from your local German consulate). For those who have re-adopted in the US, you have the choice to have the in-country adoption recognized or the re-adoption in the US (that’s the path that we took).
  2. Birth certificate of the child, validated and translated as explained above. Similarly to above, you can provide either the birth certificate issued in the birth country or the one that was issued in the US after re-adoption (again, that’s what we did).
  3. Homestudy, as created by a certified social worker, prior to the adoption.
  4. Similar information available showing that adoption was the right solution for the situation of the child, done in the home country prior to the adoption. In case of an adoption in China, this information is not available to you as it is part of the confidential CCAA files.
  5. Any information that you have received about the child prior to the adoption, including any medical information that was available.
  6. Any documentation that you can provide about the life of your child from birth till adoption.
  7. Details about the agreement of the biological parents to the adoption – or alternatively official documentation that the child was abandoned.
  8. Proof of the involvement of a adoption agency, including contact information and internet address.
  9. Detailed writeup of the adoption process, the selection of the child (or an explanation of the selection process), including all payments that were made, as sworn statement signed by both parents.
  10. Postplacement reports done by a certified social worker.
  11. Details about the family situation of the parents, including marriage certificate and information about prior marriages.
  12. Copies of the parents’ passports

Of course we didn’t get this as a convenient, consistent list, but instead as a seemingly unending set of questions for more and more information. But once we delivered all this (and waited about three to four months for every iteration in this process) the court decided that the adoption was valid under German law and that therefore the girls are German citizens and will soon receive German birth certificates.

I hope this explanation makes sense and helps some of you through the same process. If you have more questions, please let me know below.


3 Responses to “Getting the adoption recognized in Germany”

  1. Angela on 12 Mar 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Wow. How the heck do you “permanently attach” the certified translation of the document to the original? I’m assuming that takes more than staples.


  2. No More Work Than One… » Addendum: connecting documents on 12 Mar 2010 at 10:00 am #

    […] the “permanent connection” of the documents with their translation that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. This is a long standing legal tradition in Germany. In its simplest form you fold over one corner […]

  3. Susanne Henry on 21 Feb 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Hello, thank you so much for sharing all this information! We are an American/German family with a Chinese adopted child too. We adopted out son in 2010 and I’d love to finally get him the German citizenship, too. I’m a little intimidated now :) Would it be possible for you to email me the name and contact information for your German lawyer (since he/she knows now what to do)?

    Vielen Dank und ganz herzliche Gruesse aus Denver.

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